After the floods, West Nile?

Mosquito breeding grounds breed disease fears, others argue region may be safer

Melissa Lee Phillips(mlp@nasw.org)
Sep 21, 2005

As the waters from Hurricane Katrina begin to recede, Gulf coast residents may have something else to worry about: mosquito-borne disease. Some scientists are concerned that the large, stagnant bodies of water that Katrina left behind will be ideal breeding grounds for vector mosquitoes, perhaps amplifying the low level of West Nile virus present in the area this season. However, experts also suggest that the hurricane may have wiped out most of the mosquitoes and birds that bring the disease to humans, making the region safer than before.

"It's going to be difficult to predict whether or not [the hurricane] is going to have an impact on West Nile," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Md.

Stagnant waters certainly favor the proliferation of mosquitoes, but most of the birds that serve as reservoirs for West Nile and other arboviruses have...

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